7:30 p.m. " Fire erupts in Tahoe Park/Talmont area on West Shore
August 18, 2007
At least five houses have burned after a fire started at a home Saturday afternoon in the Tahoe Park/Talmont area near Tahoe City, officials report. Evacuations were made in the immediate area of the fire.
By late Saturday evening, the behavior of the fire had “significantly diminished,” according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The “Washoe Fire” was reported at 1:35 p.m. as a structural fire on Washoe Way. The fire spread to as many as four other residences. The fire is currently burning on Forest Service land, north of Washoe Way.
The fire is entering an area recently treated for fuels reduction to decrease fire intensity, said Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman.
The blaze started after deck fire at 1523 Washoe St., according to Camino fire dispatch. That was the first structure to have burned. That fire spread and destroyed two additional homes, evacuated residents and sent flames into adjacent U.S. Forest Service land.
Additional homes burned later in the afternoon. By 3:30 p.m. the fire was reported to be about 20 to 25 acres in size.
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Sunnyside resident Russ Grijalva said that neighbors in the immediate area fought to stop the blaze early on.
“Everybody grabbed shovels and hoses and started helping out,” he said. “It was so hot; it was crazy.”
Talmont resident Kristen Anderson said she saw the first house go up in flames. She said the fire was caused by a propane leak igniting.
“We just started packing bags, my computer tower, grabbing files, jewelry and pictures. We grabbed the dogs and headed down the hill to see a second house engulfed,” Anderson said.
Emily Robbins, who rents one of the homes that was burned, said she looked over to see her neighbor’s deck on fire.
“I ran next door and called 9-1-1 and got their dogs out,” said Robbins. “And then I called 9-1-1 back.”
Robbins had barely enough time to grab her pets before her home was engulfed.
“Within two minutes our house went up in flames,” she said.
Robbins had lived in the home for three years and escaped only with her dog and the flip flops, tanktop and shorts she was dressed in.
At 4 p.m. the fire had moved north into a heavily wooded area with homes, according to Ed Miller of the Meeks Bay Fire Protection District.
“It’s a general alarm fire and we have all hands working,” Miller said.
The fire started at approximately 1:45 p.m. in the vicinity of Washoe and Sequoia streets in the Talmont area. At around 3:15 p.m. fire spotting had been reported above Granlibakken.
Northbound Highway 89 is closed at Sunnyside, southbound 89 is closed at Squaw Valley with traffic being turned back toward Truckee. Power has been turned off in the area with evacuations in the immediate neighborhood of the fire.
“I think we’re just going to the beach and wait it out,” said Jennifer Chatman, an evacuee who lives on Talvista Street.
Twenty fire engines are on scene along with three air tankers and three helicopters.
A Red Cross evacuation center first set up at the Tahoe City Public Utility District building has been moved. The center is now located at the Fairway Community Center. At approximately 5:15 p.m. there were about 25 people there.
A lake wind advisory and a red flag warning are posted for Lake Tahoe until 9 p.m. Winds are gusting in multiple directions, but Miller said the head of the fire is moving to the north.
Highway 89 north and south